Facebook Timeline: Seven things you need to know

Facebook launched its largest redesign ever with the "Timeline" – a way to display the most significant events of your life (as determined by Facebook) in chronological order. You can scroll from birth (usually showing your birth date, hometown and parents, if you've put that information into Facebook), the date you joined Facebook all the way through current events.

Tampa-based social strategist Mitch Neff says Timeline is more than just another Facebook update.  "It is a whole new look at what the core of the Facebook experience should be," he said. "This is less focused on stories, and more focused on a user's interactions."

1. Switch your profile over to the new timeline by going to the Timeline page ( http://www.facebook.com/about/timeline) and clicking the "get it now" button. This gives you a chance to see what your profile is like before anyone else can and tweak it.

2. Take the time to tweak your timeline. The Timeline features photos you've been tagged in, friends that you've added and status updates and notes you've posted throughout the years. This means it's probably got plenty of stuff that you'd rather not have in there. If you move your cursor over just about any item on your Timeline page, you'll get an image of a pencil that gives you the ability to "edit or remove" if you click it.

3. If nothing else: check your photos. The sheer amount of information posted can be overwhelming if you're a heavy Facebook user, but at least take a look at the photos you've been tagged in and remove any that aren't flattering or conducive to your online persona from your profile page. Photos show up prominently on the Timeline.

4. Show off what's important to you. Whether it's photos from your wedding or your excellent music taste as displayed by applications like Spotify, you can feature it on your page. Hover over the activity that you'd like to display more prominently and click on the star that appears in the upper right-hand corner. Neff, the social strategist, warns users: "Many newer apps (like the NY Times Reader) will automatically post to your timeline when you use them. So unless you want your boss to know that you were reading an article about how to update your resume at 3 in the afternoon, you may want to keep an eye on app permissions and with whom you are sharing."

5. Add important life events. Facebook has probably already chosen certain activities to feature, including job changes, graduations and life changes like marriages. If there are important moments in your timeline that weren't chronicled automatically by Facebook (like the purchase of a home, a significant move, the addition of a family member or other life event), you can add it by clicking "life event" in the upper right-hand corner of your Timeline, choosing a category and filling in the blanks.

6. Choose a cover for your Timeline. The cover is a large, horizontal photo across the top of your new page that is the first thing people will see when they visit the page. The best cover photos will be ones with a focused point of action happening, rather than a busy photograph. "To me, Timeline represents a balance between the forced profile uniformity and complete customization," Neff said. "People stopped using MySpace for a reason."

7. Protect your privacy. As with any Facebook update, "expect the same give-and-take with privacy concerns," Neff said, but he thinks the Timeline actually makes it "easier for you to control your public-facing information." Activities in the timeline is only available to people you originally shared it with. But you can change the access level on the Timeline page itself. Click the gear icon on the activity (usually next to the timestamp) and adjust the access level there.

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